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Using Access to Employment to Empower Refugees


By Virgilia Kaur Pruthi

The migrant crisis has been at the forefront of the media since last July as more than 800,000 refugees from Syria entered into Europe at an intensifying pace. Many people sought shelter at refugee camps such as Jordan’s Za’atari, where U.N. Women provide economic empowerment and programming such as English literacy and computer classes. Access to these skills, and potentially employment, serves to break the isolation refugees face and allows them to be economically independent in their new home.

Remarkably, there are several U.S.-based companies whose missions are to not just empower, but enable refugees and individuals who reside in developing nations. Here are two of them:

1. Tiossan

Magatte Wade started Tiossan, a company that produces luxury organic skincare products based on traditional Senegalese skin care recipes, in New York.  The name is a play on “Thiosane” a Wolof (Senegalese) word which means “origins.”

Tiossan is the only skincare company in the world that devotes 50 percent of its profits to finance entrepreneurial schools in Senegal. Now, Wade has launched a campaign to build a production facility in Senegal to create jobs in the African nation -- one that is no stranger to fleeing refugees.

2. Samasource

Founded in 2008, Samasource is one of three social ventures under the nonprofit organization Sama Group. Its mission is to alleviate worldwide poverty by connecting unemployed people in impoverished countries to digital work. Over 92 percent of its incoming workers are unemployed or underemployed. On average, its workers increase previous income by 114 percent after six months of Samasource employment, and 89 percent of workers pursue additional means of formal employment and/or education after working for Samasource.

Of course, this is just a small sampling of companies doing great things in developing nations. Hopefully an emergence of refugee/developing nation continue to grow.

Image credit: Flickr/Fabio Sola Penna

Virgilia Kaur Pruthi is an entrepreneur, community builder and writer. She is the Founder of the practice management tool Practice Well, organization dedicated to enabling personal development for millennial women called Network of Women, and author of the top selling book “An Immigrant’s Guide To Making It In America.” Virgilia has over 8 years of experience building and scaling technology products across the e-commerce, SaaS, health and government sectors.

3p Contributor

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